Africa: State Department Promotes Women As Global Peacemakers

Washington — Better integrating women into global efforts to end conflict and promote peace is a critical objective of U.S. diplomacy, according to a new State Department report.

Released August 14, the U.S. Department of State Implementation Plan of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security outlines the department's efforts "to ensure that women participate equally in preventing conflict and building peace in countries threatened and affected by war, violence and insecurity."

The State Department said in an August 15 statement that the plan supports President Obama's strategy to enhance women's involvement in building stable and secure societies.

"The Department of State's implementation plan outlines commitments to accelerate, institutionalize and better coordinate efforts to advance women's participation in peace negotiations, peacebuilding, conflict prevention and decision-making institutions; protect women from gender-based violence; and ensure equal access to relief and recovery assistance in areas of conflict and insecurity," the statement said. It added that the department's efforts demonstrate its commitment to further promoting gender equality in service of U.S. foreign policy and national security.

To mark the release, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Deputy Administrator Don Steinberg met with civil society representatives August 14 to discuss U.S. plans to protect and engage women as agents of peace and stability in conflict, crisis and transition-affected environments.

The State Department worked closely with interagency partners, bilateral and multilateral partners, civil society and the private sector in developing its implementation strategy for the national action plan. Thanks to the involvement of such a wide base of stakeholders, the report said, its proposed actions have been verified as "high-impact, necessary [and] achievable."

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said the national action plan marks a change in the way the United States will approach diplomatic, military and development-based support to women in areas of conflict.

"This is not just a women's issue," Clinton said following the plan's White House unveiling December 19, 2011. "It cannot be relegated to the margins of international affairs. It truly does cut to the heart of our national security and the security of people everywhere."

The State Department's strategy of implementation outlines specific steps to wield diplomatic power in support of women's inclusion in peace talks and politics.

It aims to strengthen U.S. efforts to protect women and children around the world from abuse and exploitation, as well as to promote women's contributions to conflict prevention in pursuit of building lasting peace and stable societies.

The plan also seeks to build women's skills to serve in government and nongovernmental organizations around the world, and supports other nations in developing laws and policies to advance women's participation in making public policy.

The State Department is joined in implementing the action plan by the departments of Defense, Justice, Treasury and Homeland Security, as well as USAID, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.

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